And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same (Abraham, vs 2)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Elijah Part 1: Promises made to the Fathers

Part 1: The following posts are some of my learnings and studies on the subject of Elijah and the promises made to the Fathers. I certainly don't fully understand it all but have jotted down some of my thoughts on the subject. Which could change as more understanding is given.
"The spirits of the just are enveloped in flaming fire,...are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.. and are often pained therewith." (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 326)
Promises Made To Abraham:
Abraham was promised the following.
9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee(that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is,thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abraham 2:9-11, See Also Genesis 12:1-3)
Abraham is blessed with "this right" that it shall continue in thee (that is in thy priesthood). What was this right? The right is associated with Abraham's promise. The definition of "rights" is "entitlement".The promise is that all those who receive "this gospel", the same Gospel Abraham received, shall be called after thy name (Abraham), and shall be accounted thy seed (Abraham's seed). Joseph received "This Gospel" therefore became accounted as the seed of Abraham and received "this right" (vs 11) to continue in Joseph and also fulfilling the promises made to Abraham in his generation.
31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father [The right that Abraham was promised, a continuation of seed or posterity], wherein he glorifieth himself. 22 ...narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives [lives, or thy seed, or thy priesthood, this extends not to yourself only but those of your posterity if they receive it19 ...and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (D&C 132:19,22,31)
Abrahams receives three promises.
  • Land: "A land that I will show you."
  • A Kingdom: "A great nation."
  • Posterity, Thy Priesthood, or Seed (These are all related): "All the families of the earth shall be blessed."
A Promised Inheritance:
God fulfills this promise through Abraham's seed telling them "that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham" (Gensis 28:4) Also "the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to Jacob" (Genesis 35:12)

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made” (Galatians 3:16) and "The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." (Genesis 12:7) Abraham’s son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, were “heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9) Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8) to the land of inheritance.

The descendants will continue to receive the land or what is also known as the "promised land". The children of Israel were promised it,
And I have also established my covenant with them [Abraham, Issac, and Jacob] , to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord (Exodus 6:4-8)
The Lord covenanted with Abraham and fulfills that promise through his children. God said to Joshua, "after the death of Moses.", "Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them..." and "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers  to give them." (Joshua 1:1-6)

These promises extend spiritually as well as all who receive celestial glory will receive an inheritance.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance... the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession (Ephesians 1:10-14)
A Nation:
I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:6-7)
"I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there." (Genesis 46:3)  This is what God said to Abraham's grandson Jacob (called Israel after Gen. 32) and the descendants of Abraham were called Israel, the children of Israel; Israelites - who went down to Egypt as the family of Joseph, but came out - a great nation.

After the family arrived in Egypt and were cared for by Joseph, he died, and the family grew. Exodus 1:7 says: "But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mightily; and the land was filled with them."
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude-innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11-12 )
Through the course of one child a multitude-innumerable as the sand of the seashores were born. Through One that is infinite or eternal, the continuation of the works of God can continue.

Promises Made To Abraham's Fathers:
Abraham (Abram new name) was ordained under the hands of Melchezidek. "Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram. [The name for Abraham before the Lord had given him a new name]" who "was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God" (JST Genesis 14:25, 27-28)

The Lord gives a description of the people after this order which Enoch himself received. This is the power that is given to them and the signs that follow.
For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world (Genesis 14:30:31)
The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Enoch. This covenant contains the promises for a future people that bring Zion and connect with the powers of heaven to receive these promises for themselves.
"this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy; And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch." (JST Genesis 9:22-23)
Zion (Enoch) shall come down while Zion will look upwards. Truth looking upwards because thtey will have possed the knowledge of God and he shall dwell there. Zion looks downwards because they will finally at last see a resemblance of what is in likeness in heaven and will desire to dwell there among them.

God continues to fulfill his promises as it says in Joshua "...not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you," (Joshua 23:15).

All The Families of the Earth Shall Be Blessed:
This was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. See Acts 3:25-26.

Part 2: The Fathers In Eternal Glory: Future Coming of Elijah: Records

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Re-baptism Revisited: LDS Changes

I have discussed Re-baptism here and how it was commonly and frequently practiced in the early days. Its a practice that went from commonly practiced, to not at all, to being forbidden today and removal of ones temple recommend.

Brigham Young said regarding re-baptism,
At this time came a revelation, that the Saints could be baptized and re-baptized when they chose. (Brigham Young J.D. 18:241) 
Nearly All the church have been Baptized again, for the Remission of their Sins, since they joined the Church, I have also, by the hands of Br. Joseph (as he himself has been,) & I would advise Jan and you Mary, to attend to it as soon as you can have the opportunity of an Elder or Priest of the Church to administer it. (Jacob Scott from Nauvoo in February, 1843)
Re-baptism as a requirement to enter the temple was discontinued in 1893. See Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints. (John Taylor to Angus M. Cannon, Nov 15, 1877) 

In a journal it states regarding re-baptism and the temple,
September 17th 1886–As it was customary to get baptized to prepare for my temple ordinances, before going to the temple so as to be free from all evil and wrong… I arranged with Brother Leatham, who has charge of baptisms on the Temple Block, to be baptized... 
I had already made arrangements to get Ida’s recommend to be baptized and at 2 p.m. ... I took Ida to the Old Endowment House and after a word of prayer and a few remarks by Brother Leatham, he baptized us and confirmed us for the renewal of our covenants. (Diary of John M. Whitaker, Book 3, p. 16.)
BYU has an article on Re-baptism here (screenshot here) states "On some occasions, the Saints were re-baptized as they prepared for marriage or entrance into the temple. Early members also re-baptized some of the sick among them as an act of healing. Because of misuse by some Church members, all such practices of re-baptism were discontinued in 1897," 

Which you'll notice does significantly downplay re-baptism as "on some occasions" when in fact it was a policy pretty standardized however acknowledges that re-baptism was part of the process upon entering the temple. 

The conference report that brought about its discontinued practice states:
We hear a good deal of talk about re-baptism, and the First Presidency and Twelve have felt that so much re-baptism ought to be stopped. (Conf. Rept., Oct. 1897, p. 68)
The prevalence of re-baptism can be seen in the temple recommend questions in that era. Here are the temple recommend questions in 1877:
"Those desiring to receive the benefit of these ordinances must obtain a recommend from the Bishop of the Ward or settlement in which they reside, or in the absence of the Bishop, the recommend may be signed by the President of the Stake. It will be well for persons presenting themselves at the Endowment House to receive the ordinances thereof, to be prepared to reply to the following questions:--" 
"When were you born?"
"Where were you born?"
"When were you first baptized?"
"What is your Father's name?"
"What was your Mother's maiden name?"
"No person will be eligible to receive these blessings except they have been rebaptized."
Today Stake Presidents are being directed to inform bishops to ask , whether inside or outside the recommend questions I don't know, to ask if the members have been "re-baptized" and removing recommends for doing so. If so they are asked by who and if you know who else has.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Babylon: Idols

The following is taken from a paper by Avraham Gileadi that I thought is worth sharing.

9. Babylon

The name Babylon means many things to many people. The Hebrew word (babel) goes back to a kingdom Nimrod founded, where the ancients built the tower of Babel, or Babylon (Genesis 10:9-10; 11:1-9). This kingdom evolved into an idolatrous materialistic civilization that reached a zenith in the powerful neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Daniel 2:37-38). The prophet Isaiah identifies Babylon typologically as both a people and a place: the sinners and the wicked; the earth and the world (Isaiah 13:1, 9, 11). He predicts latter-day Babylon will suffer the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, thus likening the world’s desolation to a fiery cataclysm falling upon the wicked (Isaiah 13:4-19).

Jeremiah calls Babylon a “destroying mountain” (har hammashît), an expression that in Hebrew also means a “corrupting” or “decadent” kingdom (Jeremiah 51:25). Babylon’s destiny is to become a burned mountain, desolate forever, because Babylon corrupts—and thus ultimately destroys—all the earth (Jeremiah 51:25-26). Babylon’s fall in the last days forms a key event ushering in the Millennium.76

Isaiah and Jeremiah single out something about Babylon that corrupts all, including the Lord’s people. Those who engage in it become “Babylon” themselves and in the end perish with it. This involves the manufacturing, promoting, and selling of idols—the works of men’s hands.
A story I heard in rabbinic school relates how Abraham’s father, Terah, in the land of Ur of the Babylonians, at times put young Abraham in charge of his store. When Terah, who made and sold idols, went into the forest to fetch wood for their manufacture, Abraham was to sell the idols in his father’s place. Typically Abraham would dissuade buyers, reproving the adults for esteeming statues as gods. One day, fed up with his duty, Abraham smashed all his father’s wares except a large idol that stood on a top shelf. When Terah returned from the forest, he flew into a rage, demanding an explanation. Abraham responded, “The big one did it!” implying that these were no gods at all, or they could have saved themselves. After that, Abraham became unpopular in Ur and the people sought his life. A sequel to this story appears in the book of Abraham, which commences with, “I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence” (Abraham 1:1).

As Hugh Nibley has often pointed out, the essence of this sort of idol worship is not that people really believed the idols to be gods, but that their manufacture, promotion, and sale provided them with a living. It formed a socioeconomic system that afforded urban dwellers a means of sustenance. One problem with this system lay in its false economic base and the instability it bred—it fed on itself.
Economic factors determined social behavior—the law of supply. Manufacturing the works of men’s hands yielded income but constituted idolatry, because what so many people worked at, oriented their lives around, was ultimately nonproductive. The work of idols did not sustain itself, but demanded to be sustained. It enslaved to a false idea not merely those directly involved with it, but also those who produced foodstuffs and raw materials. The latter labored additionally to provide for all the rest.

The reverse of this phenomenon also applied: false spiritual values influenced directions the economy would take—the law of demand. Because of their association with deity, idols represented something socially acceptable into which people might pour time and money. The prestige the idols furnished made people protective of the system. Those who prospered from it had found a niche. Their real source of subsistence—farmers and husbandmen—took second place in people’s minds. Society measured wealth in terms of money and the idols it could buy, rather than by how much food could be produced.

We can thus liken Babylon’s socioeconomic structure to an upside-down pyramid, which, as it grows, ever narrows at its base. In it, the many depend on the few for their support. Babylon’s mass of people, engaged in producing and selling idols, remain out of touch with their life source, rendering them vulnerable to catastrophe. The greatest height to which Babylon attains thus also forms her lowest point of stability. For when, through some unforeseen (divine) intervention, a single stone jars loose from the base, the entire structure collapses.

By way of contrast, Zion’s economy is not so structured. As Israel’s prophets outline, Zion possesses a broad rural base, in which every family works its inheritance of land.77 This makes Zion a stable, self-sustaining structure. In it abide neither poor nor those who appropriate what belongs to others. Zion’s people look to their Head, their cornerstone, to bless them with increase. Old Testament and Book of Mormon examples show that such a structure can weather most storms, endure most attacks, and quickly repair or rebuild itself. The direct means of sustenance— the capacity to produce foodstuffs and raw materials—is ready at hand. Even when a people must flee temporarily into the wilderness, this provides them with the greatest maneuverability.

In short, the works of men’s hands on which people set their hearts, on which they spend natural and human resources are, by definition, “idols” (Isaiah 2:8; Jeremiah 10:1-5). As the prophets describe them, these are idols that people invent, design, sketch, carve, forge, molten, cast, weld, plate, fit, hammer, rivet, and mass produce.78 Manufactured, promoted, and sold for gold and silver (Isaiah 44:9; 46:6), the idols form the fruits of a technology of well-nigh magical dimensions (Isaiah 47:10, 12). They follow trends and engage the whole of society (Isaiah 44:11; 47:13). Depending on the kind of idols, people both carry them about and set them in place in their homes (Isaiah 45:20; 46:7).

The entire production of idols, however, is erroneous and vain (Jeremiah 51:18). It causes people to become like the idols themselves—sightless and mindless to things spiritual, unaware and insensible to impending disaster (Isaiah 42:17-20; 44:9, 18; 45:16). It constitutes a “wine” that makes people drunk and mad—the wine of Babylon (Jeremiah 51:7).

A law unto herself, Babylon tyrannizes and enslaves; yet people do not discern her for what she is (Isaiah 44:20; 47:6-8, 10). In reality, Babylon suffers from gross defects, open wounds that no one can heal (Jeremiah 51:8-9). At her height, she mounts up to heaven, from whence the Lord suddenly and utterly casts her down (Jeremiah 51:8, 53). On her destruction, those intoxicated with her wine do not so much as wake up from their sleep (Jeremiah 51:39). Since their gods, the works of men’s hands, did not save them, they profited them nothing in the end (Isaiah 44:9; 46:7).

Although Jeremiah—at Judah’s exile—advised his people to serve the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 27:6-17; 40:9), Jeremiah did not mean, “When in Babylon, do as Babylon does!” Indeed, both Isaiah and Jeremiah looked forward to the time Israel would exit Babylon before the Lord destroyed her (Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 51:6). The time would come, as with Abraham, when it would no longer be advisable to remain in Babylon. The more she ripened in wickedness, the less possible it would be to live in Babylon but not be of Babylon.

Isaiah depicts the coming of the Lord’s people out of Babylon as a new exodus, patterned after the ancient exodus out of Egypt (Isaiah 48:20-21; 52:11-12). He likens the gathering of a repentant remnant of Israel from the ends of the earth to Abraham’s coming out of Babylonia into the wilderness (Isaiah 41:8-9; 51:1-3). The prophets, therefore, speak both of a literal, spontaneous exodus from Babylon on the eve of her destruction, and of a gradual, premeditated exit before that time.79 As Lot’s wife illustrates, those ensconced in Babylon find it hard to leave at a moment’s notice.

Doing “the works of Abraham”—in order to merit an exaltation that compares to his80—thus includes leaving and forsaking Babylon as he did, becoming wholly pure of her abominable idols (cf. Isaiah 51:2; 52:11). Not unexpectedly, the limits of any alternative to Babylon are extremely narrow. In prophetic thought, what is not Zion is Babylon and what is not Babylon is Zion. In effect, only two choices remain for the Lord’s people: either build up Zion or build up Babylon. This requires that we gain a clear idea about Zion and Babylon—how the prophets define them, what they stand for, and how to implement Zion.

Isaiah, for example, defines Zion as both a people and a place: those of the Lord’s people who repent, and the place to which they gather—a safe place in the wilderness during the Lord’s day of judgment.81 According to Isaiah, the Lord’s people must urgently repent of Babylonian idolatry—worshiping the works of men’s hands.82 Scriptural precedents prove the principle that those who leave Babylon under the Lord’s direction inherit a promised land.83 According to Jeremiah, a person leaves Babylon in order to go to Zion, throwing in one’s lot with the Lord by an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 50:1-5). To leave Babylon means to go out from among the wicked to establish Zion somewhere else (D&C 38:42; 133:4-9). All who remain in Babylon do so at the peril of their lives.84
As for the works of men’s hands in today’s Babylon, we need say little more to recapture the ancient scene. Essentially the same materialistic economy that prevailed then prevails in our day. Like the ancient port city of Tyre, Babylon’s mercantile arm,85 latter-day Babylon encompasses every kind of trade and merchandise—whatever the souls of men lust after by way of material possessions (Revelation 18:1-24). The manufacture and promotion of contemporary works of men’s hands form virtually an unlimited enterprise. Reduplicating the socioeconomic structure of ancient Babylon is the very stuff of modernization.

Technology of almost magical proportions consumes humanity to the point of enslaving us to it. By orienting our lives around their production, sale, and maintenance, we set material things above the glory of God. Taking care of the works of men’s hands and servicing them are terms synonymous with loving and serving idols. And yet, as with her ancient counterpart, men do not discern modern Babylon for what she is. The wine with which all nations of the earth are drunk blinds men to life’s divine charge and to Babylon’s looming collapse (Revelation 17:2; 18:3). As with many other peoples who have grown up in captivity, we ourselves are not cognizant of, or else take for granted, the fact of our bondage.

The question remains, what will Abraham’s children do? Will they continue to imbibe the wine of Babylon, or will they ask the way to Zion?